In the course of a half hour this afternoon, it was announced that Steven Stamkos has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Edmonton Oilers traded Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson, and the Montreal Canadiens traded PK Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber.
Stamkos re-signing came hours after he was in Toronto, being courted by his hometown team to try to lure him over in free agency. In Taylor Hall, Edmonton trades away a top five left-winger in the NHL for a young defenseman who hasn't yet lived up to his potential and may never do so. And Montreal trades away the most charismatic player in the league, and one of the most talented too, a man who after signing a lucrative contract with the Canadiens donated $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital.
It's not a good day to be a fan of a Canadian hockey team. At least the other four teams didn't do anything!
Montreal is very much an old boy's club. The management is a bit backwards, and for whatever reason they've never been on the PK Subban bandwagon, even as he's gone out and won a Norris Trophy.
Subban is definitely a personality. He goes out and earns publicity, whether it's by making the aforementioned hospital donation, mimicking Don Cherry for a TV spot, or being eminently quotable for the media. That rubs some people the wrong way, clearly including the coach of Montreal. When Subban and goalie Carey Price would celebrate each win with a special handshake and bump on the ice at the end, coach Therrien forbade them from doing so. There shouldn't be any way that the opinion of the coach is valued over the talent of Subban, but this is where we are today.
Coaching in Montreal is different than everywhere else in the league, because the coach of Montreal must speak French. A coach who can only speak English is a coach who'll be eaten alive by the media and much of the fanbase. It isn't tolerated. That might have helped lead to the situation we have here, where Montreal might be more inclined to side with their coach over their star player, if only because it'd be hard to replace the coach. Julien wasn't fired from Boston, Guy Boucher went to Ottawa with Marc Crawford as his assistant. There's just not a lot of Francophone coaches available for them right now. Of course, even with that, the smart thing to do would be to tell the coach "Subban's a star, if you have issues with how he acts, suck it up". But maybe the management was on his side. There's plenty of speculation that GM Marc Bergevin didn't want to sign Subban to the big deal he got in free agency and ownership forced him to...
So why wouldn't ownership nix this trade? I don't know. It's clearly a stupid move, and I feel bad for Weber going in, as the fans are going to use him as a scapegoat for Subban's departure and he won't hear the end of it. I'm not sure if any other #1 defenseman on a team has ever been booed by the home crowd in his first game with the team, but we're going to see it coming up next season.
HOLY GOD. This was seriously a terrific effort by both teams, but the Flames managed to outwork yet another division champion and are now 4 wins away from the Stanley Cup Championship. This all feels like some great dream, and I hope we never wake up.